Chino Roces and the Bridge at Mendiola

Since the late Marcos period at least, Mendiola Street has been known as a hotbed of protest activity as people marching there aimed to have their grievances and protests heard a bit closer by whoever is at Malacañang at the end of the said street. The epicenter of sorts of these activities is the bridge along Mendiola that crosses the Estero de San Miguel, named today in memory of one of those who took part in those protests along that storied street.

His name is Joaquin Roces, better known to family and friends as “Chino.” And he was no mere protester. He belonged to one of Manila’s most illustrious families, the Roces family who owned a bustling media conglomerate that flourished until 1972, when Martial Law was declared.

Chino Roces (courtesy of Malacanang Museum

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Mabini150: Mabini and Nagtahan

If there is one place in the metropolis that has a solid association with Apolinario Mabini, it would be the road and the neighborhood called Nagtahan which straddles between the present-day districts of San Miguel and Santa Mesa in the City of Manila.

flyover at Nagtahan, 2014

Nagtahan got its name from a word in Tagalog which means to stop or end. It was named so because in the olden days, Calle Nagtahan was a dead end, ending a few meters before the bank of the Pasig River. Despite that, it grew as a rural suburb of Manila during the late Spanish colonial period as some decided to take residence in the area. One of them happened to be Apolinario Mabini’s brother, Agapito, who married a woman belonging to a somewhat landed family, the Del Rosarios.

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Beyond the Palace: the heritage of San Miguel

Located along the northern bank of the Pasig River, not far from the bustling and often “chaotic” atmosphere of downtown is the community characterized in contrast by a low-key and more “quiet” atmosphere. An unassuming personality of its own, one would not realize at first how important this part of the city is not only in the city’s but also in the country’s geopolitical landscape. This is the district of San Miguel, more known to many as the place where Malacañang is located, AKA the residence of the country’s president.

san miguel

While this community being the site of Malacañang has somehow helped in keeping its distinct overall character, it also serves as a disadvantage as it overshadows the charm San Miguel has to offer in the midst of rapid and haphazard urbanization, not to mention the perception of security which gives the impression that the whole of San Miguel is a place that is “off-limits” to some traveler. Continue reading


that brewery named after a saint and a suburb

It was September 29, 1890, which happened to be the feast of St. Michael and the rest of the Archangels, when a fellow named Enrique Barretto y Ycaza opened up a brewery in the Manila suburb named after the aforementioned saint. With a royal grant from Spain, Enrique decided to name the brewery after that suburb where he has lived and worked. So began the history of Fabrica Cerveza de San Miguel, the brewery which would become the San Miguel Corporation we would know today.


The document which bore that royal grant had the old seal of Manila insigned with a crown above it. Seeing the significance of this seal, Enrique adopted it as the logo for his brewery, which is still seen today as the current corporate logo of the company. The seal is known as the escudo, which means shield; incidentally, it was also the name for once Spain’s old currency before the peseta and eventually the euro. Continue reading


The church and the community of the archangel-soldier

The late 16th-early 17th centuries which marked the beginnings of Spanish rule in the Philippines, in Manila in particular, also marked the influx of migrants to this newly-Christianized city. Most of these migrants are Japanese refugees fleeing from the persecution of Christians by Japan’s shogun government. (who eventually closed the country from foreign contact) They eventually settled in what is now the area of San Marcelino in northern Ermita. To meet the needs of this new community, the Spanish Jesuits decided to erect a parish for them. By 1611, the church was finished and the parish established, dedicated to the archangel-soldier St. Michael or San Miguel. It has been said that St. Michael was chosen to attract the community which was mostly composed of samurais or the warrior class of Japan.


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